Castrol Research & Development - Castrol SA

Discover more about Castrol Research

INTRODUCTION

At Pangbourne, motorcycle engine oils are our passion. Gain an exclusive insight into the four key stages of product development, meet some of our experts and see some of the specialist equipment they use including Flossie, our dedicated robot rider. He is the most precise rider ever, in fact, there are only 3 like him in the world, come and see him in action at Castrol’s R&D facilities in Pangbourne.
Meet Flossie, our bike tester. Together with over 120 world-class scientists and engineers, Flossie helps us create motorbike oils that keep performing when pushed to the absolute limit. Just one of the amazing sights you’ll see at Pangbourne, home of Castrol’s unique motorcycle research and development facility.

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DR. DAVID JIBERT

Team Leader – Motorcycle and small engines group.

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Tucked away in the heart of the Berkshire countryside is Pangbourne – Castrol’s world class motorcycle product development & testing facility.

At Castrol, motorcycle engine oils are our passion. We want you to gain an insight into what it takes to develop our advanced motorcycle engine oils with Trizone Technology™.

Through a series of short videos, you will be guided through the 4 key stages of product development.

The blending and analytical section shows you how we optimise our formulations both physically and chemically through a range of specialist laboratory and bench tests.

Engine testing gives you an insight into the complex world of motorcycle lubricant evaluation where we specialise in the art of developing extreme tests to push our lubricants to the limit in the quest for high performance.

Differentiated testing introduces you to “Flossie” our robot rider– who takes precision riding to a whole new level in our climatic test chamber.

Finally, Field Testing leads you through the final proof of performance, with bikes of all shapes and sizes being evaluated in different conditions across the world.

I’m confident that the videos will give you a flavour of our commitment to the development and testing of world class motorcycle engine oils!

Dr David Jilbert

Team Leader - Motorcycle and small engines group

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BLENDING AND ANALYTICAL TESTING

Discover how many different oils and additives are blended then evaluated in our state-of-the-art laboratories before the best ones are selected for testing in our engine beds.

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In the blending laboratory, multiple small-scale formulations are blended ready for evaluation in a range of performance screening tests.

The formulations produced here are all very different from one another and have unique formulation codes which stay with them throughout their whole testing journey.

Depending on the performance area of interest, some will have minor boosts whilst others may have major changes to the base oil, polymer or additive systems.

Strict physical and chemical limits need to be checked in the Analytical Laboratory to ensure that every formulation is characterised and signed off before further testing can begin.

The oils are then passed through a wide range of screening tests to evaluate areas including oxidation resistance, friction characteristics for clutch and engine friction, anti-wear performance and gearbox protection.

Once completed, the development team assesses the results and selects the best candidates for further modification or for onward evaluation in our motorcycle engine test department.

Dr Ieuan Adams

Lubricant Development Technologist

ENGINE TEST

Oils chosen for full scale testing are pushed to the limits in a range of engines, including some of the most powerful machines on the market. Accuracy and absolute consistency are of paramount importance and every element of the engine is evaluated and monitored to determine the effectiveness of our oils. And this is not an easy task: accurate measurement and repeat-ability are the key words. Ever seen an engine wired up to an ECG? Come see it.

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In our state of the art engine testing facility you’ll find everything from the very smallest motorcycle engines to some of the most powerful machines on the market - we use all of them to put our motorcycle engine oils to the test.

Before an engine can be tested, it is removed from the bike and often stripped for measurement in our metrology laboratory.

Some components such as piston rings or bearings are matched to our Castrol test standard. This process ensures that the engine is built to the same specification every time – a task which is critical for test repeatability.

The re-built engine is then installed on a special test pallet which houses all the necessary instrumentation to monitor and control the engine.

The engine is coupled to a dynamometer which is used to absorb the energy generated by the engine or alternatively physically motor the engine.

A complex control system enables us to program a wide range of conditions for the test which may have hundreds of different stages each with different temperatures, speeds and loads.

All our tests vary in length and style ranging from short trips to the shops or high speed motorway work through to full race track simulation and beyond.

Oil samples are taken throughout the test for analysis, and at the end of the test, the engine is removed from the test pallet where it is stripped and sent for the evaluation of cleanliness and wear.

Matt Symonds

Senior Engineer - Motorcycles, product performance

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DIFFERENTIATION TESTS

Differentiating an oil’s performance on a real riding bike requires a special rider, and we have one. He is tireless, unaffected by the scream of an engine revving at 16000 rpm, keeps his cool riding in temperatures ranging from -20° to +40° C and, best of all, he is self learning. Come and meet Flossie, our very special rider.

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One of the tools we use for differentiation is “Flossie” – our robot rider.

Flossie is invaluable in tests which support our core product benefits such as increased power or increased acceleration.

Flossie can be fitted onto any bike or scooter for testing on our chassis dynamometer.

It is equipped with a self learning mode to enable it to know the gear change pattern, clutch feel and throttle response of the bike – just like any rider would on their first outing on a new machine.

Flossie, however, is different to your average rider.

Flossie is the ultimate precision rider and will perform the same gear change or the same acceleration time after time.

This ensures exceptional test repeatability and reliability of data allowing oil to oil evaluation to be performed quickly and effectively.

There are, of course, other benefits of having a robot rider….
  • Flossie doesn’t get tired or saddle sore…..
  • Flossie doesn’t mind the excruciating noise of the bike in the chamber as its engine screams away at speeds up to 16000 rpm…..
  • Neither does Flossie worry about riding in extremes of temperature…. from arctic cold to desert heat.
  • And, most importantly, Flossie is a safe rider

Jo Simpson

Lubricant Development Technologist

FIELD TESTS

Before our oils are released onto the market, they undergo rigorous field testing. Our latest oils are tested by expert human riders in real life conditions and situations all over the world as, unfortunately, Flossie cannot ride on the open road.

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No major motorcycle oil development program is complete without putting it to the test in real life conditions.

The type, location and length of any field trial will depend on the product being released.

Trials may be run in different geographical locations at any one time to ensure that the final product released is suitable for varying market conditions.

All our field trials are tightly controlled, using fully trained riders on pre-approved test routes using constant batches of fuel and oil.

Oil samples are routinely taken and analysed to keep a check on its performance as it relates to engine wear and viscosity control.

Riders give regular feedback on key attributes of the oils’ performance such as clutch feel, gear selection and engine response.

The tracking of oil consumption, oil condition and bike performance over time is critical to the field evaluation. This is especially true when the oil drain intervals are pushed well beyond the recommended maximum. This allows us to stress the oil to the limit.

At the end of the trial, the bikes are often evaluated for emissions and fuel efficiency before being fully stripped for inspection and measurement to ensure that the oil has lived up to our huge expectations.

Only then, can the product be released to the market and for the whole development process to start all over again.

Dr David Jilbert

Team Leader - Motorcycle and small engines group